Utah Stories

Nephi Cattle Dogs

Jade Jackson of Jackson Ranch uses Border Collies to help with the cattle.


Family Picture
Jade Jackson and family Photos courtesy of Autumn Jackson

Some pampered dogs live life in the lap of luxury carried from place to place in the handbags of Hollywood celebrities. Other dogs work for a living. Such is the case for the Border Collies who work at the Jackson Ranch in Nephi, Utah.

Jade Jackson has been ranching “his whole life.” He grew up working on the ranch in Nephi with his dad, Dale Jackson. Jackson Ranch is a cattle ranch, and about six years Jade decided to try something new. He’d heard of Border Collies used for cattle, and after some investigation, he purchased dogs from Texas and Kentucky to help around the ranch.

The dogs Jade uses are bigger and grittier than Border Collies used for sheep. They also have short, slick hair so they don’t pick up burs. The dogs are listed at ABCA (American Border Collie Association) and Jade explains that the association won’t register a dog if it competes in conformation or show trials. ABCA dogs are working dogs.

Jade, after research and study and through trial and error, now breeds and trains his own dogs. He describes the breed as very intelligent, eager to please and with natural herding instincts. He doesn’t use food or treats in training, but lots of love and praise. Official training starts when the dogs reach about a year old. He explains that they need to be mature so they aren’t scared around the cattle. Until that time they run with his kids – three girls and three boys.

Once training starts a younger dog is paired with an older, more experienced dog and learns by watching and through training commands from Jade. He starts by teaching them to follow directions, “Stop,” “Get ahead,” “Come to me” and “Come by” – to move in a clockwise direction and “Away to me” – to move counter clockwise.Working Cows 1

Trained dogs work in pairs. Jade says that cows can get mean when herded by the dogs. One dog working a herd can get pinned down by the cows, but a pair, working together, can always get out of a tight situation. Pups will mimic more experienced dogs, but also work on their own during training. He trains the new dogs with multiple partners so they don’t get dependent on working with just one dog.

The dogs work between 200 to 300 head of cattle at a time. Jackson Ranch takes the cows to Mt. Nebo for the summer using a Forest Service permit. In this vast open area the dogs can round up the cows from nearly a mile away.

Jade sells pups and trained dogs to other ranches and people who want them as pets. He’s sold to people who compete in agility trials, people who want a house pet and to one lady who uses them to herd her ducks and guinea fowls. According to Jade, “Border Collies  are good-natured and take well to children.”

Jade says that having the dogs is “basically like having another ranch hand. They are easier to feed and when they get mad at you they’re still happy to work the next day.”

Story by Connie Lewis

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